Moissanite is a near-colorless gemstone that’s sometimes used instead of diamonds in jewelry. Moissanite was originally found in a crater left behind by a fallen meteor and although they look similar at first glance, moissanite is very different from a diamond. Let’s learn more!
What is Moissanite?
Moissanite is a gemstone that comes from the stars. It was discovered in 1893 by French scientist Henri Moissan who later won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He discovered microscopic particles of the gem that would eventually be named after him in a crater in Arizona left by a meteorite that fell to Earth. He initially thought he’d discovered diamonds but later determined the crystals were composed of silicon carbide unlike diamonds which are made of carbon.
On Mohs Scale of Hardness, Moissanite gems are a 9.25 so they are suitable for daily wear and this also contributes to their popularity as center stones for engagement rings. Because moissanites are almost exclusively lab created, they are also an appealing option for those seeking an eco-conscious gemstone that requires no mining.
Naturally occurring moissanite is incredibly rare, so most gems available today are laboratory created. After years of trial and error the particles Moissan discovered were successfully synthesized to produce dazzling gemstones. Moissanite is engineered to give the illusion of similarity to diamonds but is compositionally and visually quite different from a diamond. The durability, brilliance and color of the two gems are quite distinct.
How Does Moissanite Compare to Diamonds?
When you see a diamond sparkle you’re experiencing its ability to bend and refract light. As light strikes the pavilions (angled surfaces on the lower half of the gem) it’s refracted up through the diamond’s table (top surface) this is called brilliance while the rainbow of colors refracted through the diamond is dispersion and the surface sparkle is scintillation. Moissanite refracts light more than a diamond producing a stronger level of brilliance so it will appear sparklier than a diamond of similar cut and size.
If you place a diamond and moissanite next to each other under strong lighting the moissanite will likely produce stronger flashes of color or fire. While moissanites are labeled as “colorless” the gems can project a yellow or grayish hue in certain lights. A colorless diamond however, whether natural or lab created, contains no traces of yellow, brown, or gray resulting in a dazzling, bright white appearance.
Because moissanites are made in a lab the average clarity is higher than that of naturally-produced diamonds. It’s common to see diamonds with blemishes and inclusions, whereas most moissanites have few obvious internal imperfections. Moissanite is significantly less expensive than a diamond, but it’s also less valuable. Diamond prices vary based on shape, carat, cut, color, and clarity and lab created diamonds are more affordable than natural ones.